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ACT Team Members Share Stories for Women’s History Month

In celebration of Women’s History Month, ACT team members reflected on this question: “What women have had the biggest effect on your education journey in life, and why?” We’re sharing their stories in a three-part series of blog posts. Read part one here.

Christina Gordon, senior director, strategic communications

I've been so fortunate to have incredible women to help guide me on my education journey. The first is my mom; she was a teacher, school board member, and guiding force in my education (and still is). She not only pushed me and expected great things from me, but she also modeled what she expected. She always honored her commitments, fought for me (and sometimes with me), and made sure that the potential she knew I had in me was realized.

The other woman who transformed my life was my first and third grade teacher, Marcia Massey. Miss Massey had the privilege of teaching me twice — and helping to discover that I had a learning disability that was holding me back. With tough and caring attention, she (along with my parents) helped get me the services I needed to be successful. And, in third grade, once I had those services, I blossomed — and learned to love reading. It's because of Miss Massey (who gifted me my favorite book, “The Phantom Tollbooth,” for being the most prolific reader in her class that year) that I went on to study English literature in college, and that I work with words today.

I'm forever indebted to these two women who gave me the foundation I needed to be successful, who loved and cared about me and saw something in me that I didn't know was there.

Bob Sanders, director, research

My wife, Kim, has had the biggest effect on my education journey. When we first met and then got married, we were both still in college. I was a retail store manager, working crazy hours and trying to get classes in at the same time. There were many, many times I thought about quitting school and just working. Kim knew better! She graduated before me and encouraged me to stick through it, as she saw a larger picture than I did back then. She was very supportive and a huge inspiration for me to not give up.

Fast forward almost 20 years later, when I went to Kim and told her I wanted to go back to school to pursue my MBA through the Executive MBA Program at the University of Iowa. Our life had changed since we first finished college. We moved from Florida to Iowa, we had two active children and our work-life balance was just crazy. Kim, who is CEO of everything in our household, once again told me to go for it and asked what she could do to help. In those two years, she supported me through a rough schedule, making sure I kept my priorities straight and helping me to not miss any important family activities ... ever!

If not for Kim, I almost certainly would not have finished my college journey while trying to be as good of a husband and father as possible.

Linda J. Guidry, senior account executive and regional strategist

Luckily, I don’t have to look far for women who most affected my education journey; they were the women in my immediate family and community. My network included my fearless mom (business owner and social justice warrior), grandmothers, and a slew of aunties and cousins who nurtured my interests in science and love of reading. These bold women made sure I was ready for college, excelled in college, and had the chops to compete for leadership roles. I started my career in education in my community, became a principal at 29, created and led many departments, met and collaborated with domestic and international educators, and now work for ACT (the best in the industry).

My education journey continues as I build skills and expand my knowledge, hopefully affecting my daughter, nieces, female cousins, and young women along the way.

Katie Featherston, senior director, accessibility

My mother and my aunt are the biggest influences on my education journey. My aunt, a single mother, worked her way from teller to vice president. I had a front row seat to watch her work very hard, taking formal and informal learning opportunities along the way to better herself and the organization that she worked at for 30-plus years.

Her sister, my mom, put in that same hard work on my behalf. She worked tirelessly at her job and outside of it to ensure I had every opportunity in the classroom, scrounging up extra money for "college for kids" and study abroad experiences and then navigating the challenging financial aid process to make sure I could afford to go to undergraduate and law school. I recognize that these opportunities were a gift that not all get to have, and that they are the reason I get to do the work that I love today. I'm grateful for my two role models.